Win For Mark At Willow

Mark Wells reports back from his open match win at Hampshire’s Willow Park fishery.


I’ve not fished the Small lake at Willow Park for about a year and not been at the ‘business end’ of the lake for even longer, so today’s draw of peg 1 came as a welcome surprise. Since I last fished the peg it has been cleared of some of its vegetation and natural cover and is now much more open. Nevertheless, the banks remain deeply undercut and incised by tree roots but home to plenty of resident carp. To win on the Small lake, you must catch carp and was my only consideration when tackling up.

Fishing down the left-hand margin is not so much about fishing – it’s more like wrestling! The fish you hook are generally small by Willow Park standards, in the 2-4lb bracket, but they are absolutely mental and punch well above their weight. Every hooked fish will try to dive for the roots and tackle needs to cope with the war of attrition.

For my second line, I initially plumbed up at 16m tight to the bottom bank and in the scum. But, with the lake level down, I could only find 8″ of water so I decided to fish a metre shorter in about 14″ of water on the edge of the ‘scum line’. My rig here was a .2g Crystal Dibber on 0.20 mainline to 0.18 hooklength finished off with a 16 Power Hair Rigger with a 6mm banded pellet.

I started off the match by cupping in a small amount of mixed, dampened down 2mm and 4mm pellet at 8m down the edge, fishing a cube of meat on the hook. I had 3 carp fairly quickly for about 8lb but began to experience indications from small fish whittling my baits down. Refeeding the peg as before attracted another carp before the small fish were back and this set the pattern for the next couple of hours.

Eventually, I substituted the pellet feed for hemp and introduced a few grains of corn, fishing double corn on the hook. Whilst this didn’t exactly set my peg a light I was able to catch a couple more carp and this approach seemed less attractive to the silverfish. After 3 hours, I had 10 small carp for about 35lb. I could now see carp moving along the scum line where I had been sparingly pinging 4mm pellet and picked up the dibber rig. First put in and the float buried straight away, followed promptly by 2 more including a better fish of around 7lb.

I then got royally ‘seen off’ by a fish that somehow managed to swim 10 metres the wrong way and snag me in roots. One lost rig! This unsettled the swim for a while and I only managed 3 more fish before the end of the match, although my last one, landed after the all-out, proved crucial at 8 lbs.

I ended the match with 65lb 5oz, easily winning what proved to be a tough section, but also just good enough to win the match from team member Tom Arnott with 58lb and Chris Love in 3rd with 48lb who both fished pellet on the waggler.